The start of the new term looms closer and yesterday I went to check on the progress of refurbishments in the girl’s boarding house. As I entered the entrance hall I was pleased to be greeted by a large motivational poster with the caption ‘Success starts with believing in yourself’. I am sure that there will be very few that would not agree with the sentiment of this statement and of course all schools will claim to develop self-confidence and a belief in one’s abilities.
It is a commonly held misconception to think of independent boarding schools as only being about academic success. Clearly academic performance is very important but the beauty of the boarding experience is that it gives pupils a diversity of opportunity which allows them to explore their talents in many areas other than the academic.
Boarding schools foster self-belief through this diversity of opportunity. Each pupil during their time in boarding will find something at which they have a talent and this can be developed. Success in one area of endeavour will naturally lead to generally increased confidence with beneficial effects for weaker areas of a pupil’s ability.
As Headmaster at the end of an academic year I see our senior pupils leave us having achieved great things in their time at the Read School. Not only stellar academic performance, but also achievements in other areas such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award; the Combined Cadet Force; in sport; drama; music and charitable work.
One pupil, Jacob, left the school this year and goes on to Southampton University to read Business Management this Autumn. Jacob, on his own initiative had applied to be an Olympic torch bearer and surprisingly, even to himself, he was successfully selected to run with the torch in Selby. The school was able to help Jacob link his torch bearing duties with his ambition to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support in memory of his grandmother. When I first asked him how much he wanted to raise he told be two hundred pounds would be good.
I suggested he set the bar higher to a thousand pounds. Jacob with the support of his friends and staff organised a sponsored walk; a staff versus pupils softball match and a cake stall all helping him on his fund-raising mission. Jacob himself successfully ran in the Edinburgh Marathon prior to his torch bearing duties. His efforts were amply rewarded and he was able to present a cheque to Macmillan Cancer Support at the end of June for a magnificent total of £2100.
Jacob has kindly donated his torch to the school and I am now puzzling over the best place to display it for all to see. I hope that the Olympic torch and the story behind how we came to have it will symbolize that with belief in yourself (and a supportive environment) success is possible and perhaps it might even inspire a generation of Read School pupils!
The Read School, Drax